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December 30, 2014: Following an injunction won by PETA, the 2014/2015 Possum Drop in Brasstown, NC will not feature a live possum. This is not, however, a complete victory as the injunction requires a state permit to use a live possum. Possum Drop organizers told the Associated Press that they simply didn’t have time to get one this year. Please continue to sign and show your support for a complete end to the Possum Drop!
Goal: 75,000 Progress: 53,917
Sponsored by: The Rainforest Site

Large crowds, live music, and loud fireworks — it would have all the hallmarks of a typical New Year’s celebration, if not for the terrified opossum dangled in a cramped box over the cheering mob. This is Brasstown’s annual “Opossum Drop,” which adds a North Carolina “twist” on the prominent ball drop in Time Square. (See the video under “More about this issue” for a first-hand look.)

In recent years, event organizers have faced increased pressure from animal advocates, culminating in a lawsuit that prevented use of a live opossum in the 2013 event. Not to be deterred, State Representative Roger West (who also happens to sponsor the Opossum Drop) introduced a bill (HB 1131) “to exempt Clay County from state wildlife laws with respect to opossums between the dates of December 26 and January 2.” The bill became law in June 2014.

An implicit acknowledgement that the event violates the state’s existing wildlife laws, this law sets a poor precedent, prioritizing personal and commercial interests over animal welfare. Worse still, this “family friendly” event teaches young kids in attendance that it’s okay to masquerade animal abuse as entertainment.

This leaves us until the end of the year to let North Carolina’s General Assembly know we don’t tolerate this brand of animal cruelty. Fortunately, a trio of Senators that serve on the state’s Environment Committee also voted against this awful piece of legislation. Sign below to stand behind them and call on a law to repeal SL 2014-7.

Sign Here

Dear Senators Jeff Jackson, Trudy Wade, and Angela Bryant:

As members of the state’s Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources, I am writing to you to ask you continue standing up against animal cruelty in all of its manifestations. Specifically, this is a request to repeal SL 2014-7, which permits Brasstown, NC to continue using live opossums in their annual New Year’s celebration, the “Opossum Drop.” All but the event’s most ardent supporters recognize this façade for what it is — animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment.

The Opossum Drop is especially dangerous in its depictions of animal cruelty. Billed as a “family friendly” event, the celebration dresses up torture and animal abuse in a veneer of frivolity that belies the tragic underpinnings of the event. Each year, organizers capture and confine the typically reclusive marsupial in a cramped space where it is left to dangle above thousands of cheering onlookers as they celebrate with loud music, fireworks, and even musket fire.

Concerned citizens are dismissed as hippie killjoys out to ruin a town tradition in the name of political correctness. But “tradition” often serves as a last refuge for anachronistic practices that fall from social favor. Opossum Drop’s defenders are particularly disingenuous, ignoring the fact that the event was fabricated in 1990 as a desperate marketing ploy for the tiny Appalachian town. Since then, the event has quickly enshrined a public display of animal cruelty that now enjoys state protection.

Those same supporters also argue the captive opossum receives better treatment than a wild opossum and then is released back into the wild after the event. Yet reams of evidence and experts counter that the abducted mammal suffers potentially lethal trauma from the exposure and likely perishes shortly after release. Opossums are nocturnal creatures that prefer dark and secure areas — not a Plexiglas case left hanging above a rambunctious crowd during a fireworks show.

A replica could easily stand in for these unfortunate opossums and prevent any potential for abuse — not to mention the mounting cost of legal battles in courtrooms and the state legislature — while carrying on the tradition. In fact, true adherents should recall the very first Opossum Drop used a ceramic replica and only later introduced the live opossum.

As it stands now, Opossum Drop’s only legacy is one of animal cruelty, teaching future generations that such mistreatment is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged. The punchline of many jokes, it’s easy and even tempting to dismiss the troubles of this solitary marsupial. It gives me some hope to see a small enclave of reason and empathy operating in an environment dominated by personal and commercial interests.

Please, do what you can to convince your colleagues and your constituents that SL 2014-7 is a shameful law and needs repealed immediately.


(The Undersigned)

Petition Signatures

Jun 3, 2015 Anita Hoos
Jun 2, 2015 Richard Bosboom
Jun 2, 2015 Rita O'Sullivan
Jun 2, 2015 Connie Russell
Jun 2, 2015 Leslie Evelo
Jun 2, 2015 Ruth Campbell
Jun 2, 2015 Samanta Brandon
Jun 2, 2015 Claire Kilpatrick Possums are harmless animals. I never understood the need to hunt them.
Jun 2, 2015 Rachael Pappano
Jun 2, 2015 kell white stop this abuse once and for all
Jun 2, 2015 Helena Arimond
Jun 2, 2015 Kim Dunkin
Jun 2, 2015 Heidi Hierl-Schulze
Jun 2, 2015 Vanessa Allet I'm against animal cruelty.Animals do have feelings and they do feel pain like us humans. Let them live in peace.These people hurting and exploiting animals need to be sued!So please stop exploiting them. Protect animals as they voiceless, and we are not.
Jun 2, 2015 Ginger Getz
Jun 2, 2015 Susan Halevy
Jun 2, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jun 2, 2015 monika Pettersen
Jun 2, 2015 Anne Thomson
Jun 2, 2015 Monica Schreil Awful ancient cruel habits that have to STOP IMMEDIATELY.
Jun 1, 2015 samantha tupes
Jun 1, 2015 Ivan Brewer
Jun 1, 2015 Ellen Collins
Jun 1, 2015 Kim Zwicker
Jun 1, 2015 Rae Finan Schumacher
Jun 1, 2015 Linda Treuhaft
Jun 1, 2015 Jason Zastrow Please stop this out dated practice.
Jun 1, 2015 David Clemens Be humane. Stop the drop.
Jun 1, 2015 Gary Edwards
Jun 1, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jun 1, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jun 1, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jun 1, 2015 Jim Malone
Jun 1, 2015 Stephanie Adcock
Jun 1, 2015 Carol WOOD
Jun 1, 2015 Thomas Avery
Jun 1, 2015 Rebecca Lindsey
Jun 1, 2015 Roberta Gooseberry This needs to end today. These animals have feelings too. This is inhumane and needs to end. It also falls under child abuse. I mean come on.
Jun 1, 2015 Paulo Macedo
Jun 1, 2015 Melissa Brown
Jun 1, 2015 Christina Woodward
Jun 1, 2015 Annie Choinière
Jun 1, 2015 Undine Nestler
Jun 1, 2015 Faye Lash
Jun 1, 2015 Maura Ivan
Jun 1, 2015 Leslie Towner
Jun 1, 2015 Ilean Brown
Jun 1, 2015 Joanne Brennan
Jun 1, 2015 Kris Nill-Snow
Jun 1, 2015 (Name not displayed) What are North Carolinian's, uneducated and inhumane? This practice must stop. I agree with the prior blogger who said the State and it's residents should be ashamed of themselves.

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